Kilauea volcano: Explosive ash eruption and rock ejecta possible within a limited area near the summit.

07:00 22 May:  The excitement is over.  The rest of this episode is just watching Kilauea do what Kilauea does.

04:37HST Thursday, 17 May: Update

Kilauea erupted sending an ash cloud 30,000 into the air.

14:35HST, Wednesday, 16 May: UPDATE

(Kilauea hasn’t gone off yet, but it’s close if it continues to deform.)

U.S. Geological Survey
Wednesday, May 16, 2018, 2:35 PM HST (Thursday, May 17, 2018, 00:35 UTC)

19°25’16” N 155°17’13” W, Summit Elevation 4091 ft (1247 m)
Current Volcano Alert Level: WARNING
Current Aviation Color Code: RED


Strong earthquakes within the summit of Kīlauea Volcano continue in response to ongoing deflation and lava column drop. As of the afternoon of May 16, the floor of Kīlauea caldera has dropped approximately 3 feet (90 cm). This movement is stressing faults around the caldera of Kilauea, causing them to move and resulting in strong earthquakes of up to magnitude 4.4 thus far.

Employees at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park and nearby residents are reporting frequent ground shaking and damage to roads and buildings. Hawaii County Police reports cracks across Highway 11 between mile markers 28 and 29. Although these are passable, motorists are urged to use caution.

As deflation continues, strong earthquakes in the area around Kilauea Volcano’s summit are expected to continue and may become more frequent. Areas further from these earthquakes may feel some ground motion as well, but much less severe.

The shallow depths of these earthquakes make them more damaging in the immediate vicinity of the epicenter, and individuals need to take precautions to minimize damage from the shaking, including the removal of unstable items from walls and shelves. Steep slopes should be avoided as they may become destabilized during strong earthquakes.

HVO Contact Information:


Activity Summary also available by phone: (808) 967-8862

Subscribe to these messages:

Webcam images:


Lava Flow Maps:

Definitions of terms used in update:

Overview of Kīlauea summit (Halemaʻumaʻu) and East Rift Zone (Puʻu ʻŌʻō ) eruptions:

Summary of volcanic hazards from Kīlauea eruptions:

Recent Earthquakes in Hawai’i (map and list):

Explanation of Volcano Alert Levels and Aviation Color Codes:


The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is one of five volcano observatories within the U.S. Geological Survey and is responsible for monitoring volcanoes and earthquakes in Hawai`i.

21:30, 14 May:

There have been 3 MAG 3.0-3.1 earthquakes in Kilauea at a depth of ~1600 feet.  That’s very close to the water table which I estimate to be ~1640 feet.  When the lava drops below that (at the current rate of 6.5 feet/hr) there will be a major steam and ash eruption. Two more fissures have opened and are spewing lava, so the lava level is still dropping.  An eruption t is still imminent.

06:00 13 May:

The summit hasn’t erupted yet, but a fissure just opened and an emergency evacuation has begun…Where?  Exactly where I said three days ago in the text below. NO ONE else called it or pinpointed the location beforehand.

21:40 local, May 11.

I have beaten this horse to death but hopefully I made a valid point.  I’ll continue updates as eruptions warrant.


In a world full of idiots, only the best idiots make it to the top.  You read all of this right here beginning May 7. It has finally been validated by the USGS and Civil Defense today, May 11 – thereby reducing by five days the heads-up the public could have had if they had released the data in a timely manner.

My unconfirmed understanding from an employee there is that nonessential personnel in the summit area were quietly evacuated YESTERDAY.

Update: Hawaii County Civil Defense issued this at 5pm on Friday, May 11.  Nine minutes later they sent it out as a text message:


May 11: NOW the news is full of the potential explosive eruption of Kilauea.  That’s great.  People who are likely to be impacted have no time to make plans except, basically, to grab and run.  If anyone had bothered to read this blog five days ago, or Civil Defense or the USGS had  been empowered or willing to take a chance and issue public statements five days ago,  people would have had time to take precautions, not that anyone would have. 

My plan: Issue a public notice on May 7.

“By Saturday, May 12, the potential for an explosive eruption at the summit of Kilauea may exist, potentially affecting people and property within about six miles of the caldera.  The possibility of significant ash fall and rock ejecta will exist if the eruption occurs. Residents should be aware of the possibility.

The governments plan: Do essentially nothing and wait for the news media to create panic on May 11.

“OMG! Hot lava fireballs may start dropping through your roof at any time!”

Which plan makes more sense?


As of 8am May 9, the USGS finally issued a vanilla potential eruption notice on their website but it didn’t hit the news as far as I heard. I don’t watch the news. I prefer to be well-informed.  Talking heads creating drama don’t do it for me. :-O

USGS Kilauea volcanic activity notice:


USGS fails to make the comparison because (1) they report activity after it happens – they don’t predict it because predicting the future isn’t science, (2) their careers could be on the line if they did and got it wrong, and (3) they issue public statements for the benefit of median readers. Retired scientists aren’t encumbered.  If we miss, no one remembers. If we hit, we look prescient.  But we aren’t – there just isn’t a downside for us. Personally, I like to think that the few people who read this are well above median intellect and can absorb the information.

What is happening now is, I believe, essentially a repeat of the 1924 eruption of Kilauea. It is a deflationary event.  This type or eruption MAY not happen again, but as of May 11 the lava level in Kilauea crater has dropped to around 1,450 feet below the rim.  If it drops below the water table at ~1,640 feet (at the last measured rate of 6.5 feet/hr that will be sometime on Saturday, May 12) there will be a spectacular and impressive explosive steam eruption – just like 1924. Even then there won’t be a huge lava emission or a destructive lahar but there will probably be some 10 ton chunks of rock tossed around and hot golf balls can fall up to about 6 miles from the summit.

In addition, the lava draining out of Kilauea is pooling under the East Rift zone. I’ll tell you where…and this part IS science.  Shallow earthquake clusters along a rift zone during a summit deflation are caused by lava pooling because that’s all that CAN cause them.  When the lava has nowhere else to go, it will break out on the surface because gravity forces it to (as opposed to volcanic eruptions caused by inflationary upwelling from magma being pushed up under pressure from the mantle).  This is a deflationary event. Lava is collecting between Highway 132 and a mile SSE of Hwy 132 at  Halekamahina Rd. because that’s where the earthquakes from Kilauea lead directly to and then stop. That doesn’t mean it will break out there, but lava doesn’t flow uphill. If and when it does break out, that area is the likely spot.  Specifically, between Kalapana and Kaoho, around 19°29’24.94″N latitude, 154°52’13.84″W longitude on the north and 19°28’5.29″N latitude, 154°51’54.11″W longitude on the south.   We’ll wait and see but I call the center at LAT-154.8753357, LON19.4693336 at 10:45, 5/11/18.

The exact spot of the breakout when it finally happened 1t 06:00 13 May is..right there.


At 11am Friday, May 11, Hawaii County Civil defense issued the following text alert . It was posted on their website at 1:40 pm.

“As a precautionary measure, residents of Lower Puna, between Kapoho and Kalapana should be alert for possible gas emissions and volcanic eruption. There may be little to no advance notice to evacuate, be prepared to evacuate immediately.”

Better late than never.

Maybe they didn’t want to scare anyone earlier in the week, but people fear the unknown. If  they knew what was going on and that it has happened before, they wouldn’t have to be afraid of it.  I think it is dereliction not to let people know what is possible and becoming more likely as time passes, even if it isn’t a sure thing.  If they know and are still afraid, the fear derives from their personal need to create drama.  People do that when they are bored to death with their meaningless lives.

To understand what is happening and why, here are a couple of addresses you can plug into your browser and all will become immediately clear.

A little history of Kilauea:

The 1924 eruption:

While all of this is going on, dozens of people are running around claiming that the lava outbreak in Puna was caused by our geothermal plant.  That is complete nonsense.  There are dozens more who think Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess is mad – again, because of the geothermal plant.  They think drilling wells to tap geothermal energy is like sucking Pele’s blood. Again, complete nonsense.  I don’t want to disrespect cultural beliefs, but these aren’t valid beliefs. There are historical precedents which predate the geothermal plant.

As of  6am May 11, 36 structures have been destroyed and 140 acres have been covered by lava. The outbreaks continue although the lava has abated.

My off topic/irrelevant rant begins here (you can stop reading now):

A pilot at Blue Hawaiian helicopters  suggested that people who CHOOSE to live exactly ON the rift of an active volcano, and who are aware that they can’t get insurance there because of the imminent danger are well aware of the fact that a volcanic outbreak WILL occur and that it’s a matter of when, not if.  Sadly, he went on record to say he had no sympathy for people who lost their homes and he was fired from his job. Even I, cold-hearted bastard that I am, empathize and (like everyone else) offer help and support to the victims because we care and because that’s what people in a society do.  He was partially right. He just shouldn’t have been an asshole about it.

For instance, it’s polite to offer prayers to victims but impolite to observe that the entity you are praying to for relief caused the disaster in the first place.  Humans have freedom of choice.  Nature doesn’t. If you want to believe in an omnipotent deity, He gets all the credit – not just for the good things. And He and doesn’t believe about you what you believe about Him..or Her..or Them.

I live about six miles from Leilani. I chose a location that is out of the rift zone and out of the nominal lava flow zone from the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō vent of Kilauea.  No one who chooses to live on the side of an active volcano is ever safe, but safety is like happiness or reality.  People create their own. To me, safety isn’t about how much freedom the government takes away from other people in order to provide a false sense of security to people who aren’t willing or able to assume personal responsibility for themselves.  You simply can’t create a utopian, fairy tale world in which everyone is safe. We each choose to live in circumstances which create the level of security we are comfortable with. My comfort zone exists a few miles away and a little uphill from the live lava zone in a working class semi-farming community.  Most of the people I know own firearms. Some hunt and fish but all are in stable, long-term relationships and have jobs or businesses. Some are religious, some aren’t.  Every one of them is honest; none are perfect, least of all me.

If shit happens, these are the kind of people you want around you.  They don’t whine because the government isn’t protecting them from criminals with guns because criminals with guns choose victims who don’t shoot back.  They don’t complain because the government isn’t giving them free money, housing and medical care because it’s not the government’s job to be their mommies.  The government can’t protect anyone from natural disasters or, usually, predict them.  They can tell you that hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes and wildfires happen and that live volcanoes erupt. They can tell you to have a plan and be prepared for when, not if, it does.  But no one pays any attention and the government can’t protect people from themselves.

Eventually the government has to put warning labels on everything – to tell you coffee is tell you not to put plastic bags on your head or put your penis in the toaster. But warning labels aren’t to protect you from the products.  They aren’t even to protect you from doing stupid things you ought to know are dangerous. They are there to limit the legal liability of companies from idiots who hurt themselves doing the stupid things which would have removed them from the gene pool a couple of generations ago.  But there are no warnings on television sets to explain that most of what people see on them isn’t real and when people actually NEED a warning, no one will step up.

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